Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

May 5, 2005

Get rich quick, for real!

Filed under: — Different River @ 7:30 pm

Here’s a great way to get rich — but it only works if you’re a trial lawyer, preferably a well-known one.

Here’s the idea: Short-sell a company’s stock. (For the financially unitiated: this means you sell stock you don’t own in the hope that its price will fall, whereupon you can buy “back” the stock for a lower price, return the borrowed stock to its owner (your broker) and keep the difference in price.)

Then, sue the company. When you announce the suit the stock price will probably drop. Buy the stock back at the lower price.

What’s great about this is, you don’t even need to actually win — or even complete — the lawsuit. You could just taken your profit when the stock price drops, then drop the lawsuit. It doesn’t matter if the suit is so frivilous it would be thrown out of court in — all that matters is that the hearing in which the cases is thrown out is held long enough after the announcement for the price drop to happen.

In fact, now that I think about it, you wouldn’t even have to actually sue — just make the anouncement! Of course, if you bluff more than a couple of times, the market might figure it out that your lawsuits don’t actually get filed — but other attorneys could still get away with it.

The real beauty of this is that no one will even know exactly who the victims are — they will be people who sold stock in the interval between the initial price drop, and the recovery after the lawsuit is dropped or lost. And what are they going to do, sue the lawyer who announced the initial suit? They probably can’t, since this appears to be completely legal.

Financial Rounds has a variant of this technique that might be even more “profitable.” Larry Ribstein has other interesting thoughts.

Gore gets award for inventing internet

Filed under: — Different River @ 7:07 pm

Folks, I am not making this up. You might recall that Al Gore once said in a CNN interview that, “When I was in Congress, I took the lead in creating the Internet.” In reality, Gore was still a college student and a pot-smoking cub reporter at The Tennessean in Nashville when ARPA was giving the first grants to academic researchers to develop what became the Internet. Al Gore’s major contribution to the internet, other than jokes about him creating it and generating some interest in who actually created it, consisted of voting, as a Senator, to spend millions of dollars of other people’s money to pay for high-performance computers and networks, and of pushing legislation, as vice president, for a new telephone tax to raise $700 million to wire public schools to the Internet.

But that was all in the 1990s. Why is this relevant now? Because now, Gore is getting a Lifetime “Achievement” Award for creating the internet.

Like I said, I am not making this up. Gore is getting a “Webby Award.”

In part to “set the record straight,” they will give Gore a lifetime achievement award for three decades of contributions to the Internet, said Tiffany Shlain, the awards’ founder and chairwoman.

“It’s just one of those instances someone did amazing work for three decades as congressman, senator and vice president and it got spun around into this political mess,” Shlain said.

And, in one of the great ironies, and tributes to self-deception,

Vint Cerf, undisputedly one of the Internet’s key inventors, will give Gore the award at a June 6 ceremony in New York.

“He is indeed due some thanks and consideration for his early contributions,” Cerf said.

Excuse me, Dr. Cerf — and with all due respect to your role in creating the internet — what “contributions” did Gore make? It’s not like he donated the $700 million himself. He just voted to make us taxpayer “contribute” that.

Now I know internet access in the classroom is critical for curing our children of their excessively long attention spans, and I like high-performance computers and networks as much as anybody (but I’d like them better if I actually had them!), but it seems to me that while there is great merit in doing the work to invent these things, and also merit in paying for them, there is not a whole lot of sacrifice involved in voting to make other people pay for these things. If Al Gore had done some technical work on internet protocols — like Vinton Cerf did — he might be worthy of an award for it. If Al Gore had donated the money for a project as far-reaching as as the internet, he would surely merit recognition. (Maybe they could name a computer process for him — how about the “algorithm”? ;-) )

But all Al Gore did was vote to use American taxpayers’ money for the internet. And while that may be good or bad depending on your view of government, it is hardly an achievement worthy of recognition for “creating the Internet.” It’s like giving John Kennedy credit for “creating space travel” when all he did was add more taxpayer funding and a timetable to an existing government program.

More to the point, it’s like politicians who carry on about how compassionate they are because they voted to take money from you and give it to some (other?) poor person. It’s not “compassion” to take money from other people and give it to the poor. Compassion is when you give your own money to the poor, or spend your own time actually helping out. Not when you site in your taxpayer-funded office and vote to give taxpayer funds from other people (some of whom are poor themselves).

One might ask, why is Vint Cerf going along with this? Surely Dr. Cerf, who did a lot fo the actual work and even wrote a brief history of the Internet knows the difference. The answer is, Dr. Cerf is a longtime Democrat, who supported Gore for President in 2000, and this is a way of making a political statement. He is willing — as many people are — to overlook obvious facts to make his candidate look good, and perhaps to bask in the reflected glory of someone more famous than himself.

Other comments here, here, here, here, and here.

Kerry’s campaign expenses

Filed under: — Different River @ 5:38 pm

Apparently, John Kerry used money from his presidential campaign fund to pay off a bunch of overdue parking tickets.

This does not seem to be illegal, but I thought you should know, in case you contributed money to the Kerry campaign, what it was used for. ;-)

Bill Maher endorses child molestation

Filed under: — Different River @ 10:46 am

Bill Maher actually said on TV that child molestation is not so bad. Here’s the transcript.

Maybe he’ll get an award from this organization, which has been saying much the same thing for decades, and argues for the repeal of laws against child molestation (at least of boys).

(Hat tip: Clayton Cramer.)

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